Method Man & Redman, Ghostface Killah

Lincoln Theatre, Raleigh

Thursday, July 23

The silence that fell over the Lincoln after an enjoyable (though not spectacular) set from Brooklyn’s Duo Live was puzzling. With nearly a half-dozen DJs in attendance, it seems like someone would have been spinning records to keep the room buzzing during the 20 minute break before Ghostface Killah made his way to the stage. Perhaps the lack of house music was for the best, though, as the onslaught that followed from the Wu-Tang emcee and Method Man and Redman’s Clan/Def Squad alliance meant that we needed to save all the energy we had.

Accompanied by protégé Trife Da God, Ghostface Killah hit the ground running with a nonstop stream that drew heavily from sophomore release Supreme Clientele, the universally acclaimed Fishscale and his last album, 2007’s Big Doe Rehab. Ghost touched on his verse from Raekwon’s Cuban Linx single ‘Ice Cream” early in the set before letting Trife spit his verse from the Theodore Unit cut ‘Pass the Mic” after the pair ran through their respective bars from Ghost’s ‘Be Easy.” Prowling across the stage, Ghostface maintained momentum with ‘We Celebrate” and ‘Mighty Healthy” before reaching back to his 1996 debut for ‘Fish” and jumping ahead to Supreme Clientele for ‘Ghost Deini.”

By the time Ghost stopped for a breather, the ‘Wu-Tang” chants from the crowd were so intense that the husky rapper could barely squeeze in words of praise for Raleigh. Ghostface acknowledged the chants with his verses from GZA’s ‘4th Chamber” and The Clan’s ‘Can It All Be So Simple,” spread amongst Fishscale‘s ‘Dogs of War” and Clientele‘s ‘Nutmeg” and ‘Child’s Play.” The hour-long set started losing steam two-thirds of the way through after Ghost directed DJ Mathematics to ‘put it on random.” Math quickly ran through more than 30 snippets from Ghostface’s extensive catalog while Ghost offered more commentary than actual performances. It was an anticlimactic ending to an otherwise powerful set from the legendary MC, who downplayed any ego hit from playing support to the headlining duo while challenging them to match his game.

And match it they did: After another 30-plus minutes of awkward silence, Method Man and Redman banged out hit after hit from their respective solo careers and both Blackout! albums while ruling the stage with undeniable charisma. Though they teased ‘Da Rockwilder” from the get-go, Red and Meth (joined by Wu associates Streetlife and Ready Roc) led off the set with five straight cuts from Blackout! 2which failed to produce the typical ‘songs from the new album” deflationbefore jumping into Blackout! for ‘Tear It Off” and ‘Y.O.U.”

Meth teased the ladies and grabbed cell phones out of the crowd, while the Funk Doc held up a bag of the green stuff offered by a front-row fan before tossing it back into the mob. Like Ghostface, the pair honored Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Michael Jackson over the course of an 80 minute set while also paying tribute to Jam Master Jay with a brief DJ battle. Unlike Ghostface, the duo closed strong, with solo hits ‘Time 4 Sum Aksion” and ‘Method Man” leading up to their two most famous collaborations, the original joint ‘How High” and Blackout! hit ‘Da Rockwilder.” The DJs played their exit music just before the clock hit two, but the rappersever entertainingweren’t quite ready for the party to stop. Method Man crowd-surfed from the stage and Redman climbed atop the stage-left speakers and dove into the audience.

Though spent, the rapturous crowd ate it up.